Gearing Up for Spring Fishing

By Capt. Cefus McRae, Nuts & Bolts of Fishing Series

The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and that means one thing. It’s time to go fishing! Whether you love to target bass or stripers in our freshwater impoundments… trout in the mountains… or toothy critters in the salt, in the next month or so everything will be turning ‘on’.

Now, it’s possible you haven’t done much fishing since the fall. Your gear has been gathering dust for several months, and it’s probably in need of a little TLC before you start making hundreds of casts. And speaking of casts, take a good hard look at the condition of your rods, reels, and your fishing line. If your reel is spooled with monofilament that’s more than three months old…change it now. The last thing you want to deal with is trying to cast a “Slinky” of fishing line. Mono retains a memory and sitting on your spool over the winter has really created some nice coils. Take all the old stuff off, and then clean and lubricate your reel before you re-spool.

If you spool up with braided line, consider ‘reversing’ it. You really only use about the top 15% of the line on the spool, so the majority of the line never sees the light of day. It’s virtually new line. Get double usage out of expensive braid by cutting off 10 or 15 yards from the top of the spool, then simply wind that line onto a new reel. The ‘used’ line will be on the bottom of the spool and you’ll have virtually new line at the top. Be sure to run it through a towel dampened with line conditioner like Line & Lure.

Next, examine your rod for nicks in the blank. The new super fibers used for rod blanks offer sensitivity, strength, and hook-setting backbones. But if there’s a little nick in the blank itself, especially on the lower 1/3 of the rod, the stress of fighting a big fish could cause the rod to break. Not a lot to be done for repair, but at least you’ll find out now and can retire the rod before it fails on a good fish. Also, check your guides and the thread that holds them on. A nicked, worn or loose guide is pretty easy to replace.

Now take a peak in your tackle bag. It’s a mess isn’t it? Mine usually is. So dump everything out, including that moldy pack of cheese crackers, and start re-stocking. How many lures have rusty hooks? You have two choices. Replace the hooks or replace the lures. It’s probably time to replenish your swivels, weights, hooks, and beads. And I’ll bet there’s one or two spinnerbaits or skirted jigs that have ‘melted’ into the bottom of the box.

If you own a boat, perform all your springtime maintenance on the engine and the boat itself. Change the oil, lower unit lube, water pump impeller, spark plugs, and add some fuel treatment to your gas tank. Top off your batteries and check your bilge pump as well as the clamps on all your thru-hull fittings. Of course, check all your USCG required safety gear like life jackets, throwable, and check the expiration date of your flares and your fire extinguisher. Give your trailer and winch some scrutiny, including wheel bearings, tire pressure, electrical harness, trailer lights, and the condition of your winch and strap. I know this sounds silly but check to make sure you still have a license plate and that you’ve got a current sticker on the tag. Last year, I discovered my tag was hanging on by just one bolt and it was loose. I would probably never have noticed it, until I was visually checking my trailer lights.

While you’re on the boat, take a look at your anchor, anchor chain and anchor rope. Are they in tip-top shape? All your navigation lights working? Anything in your toolbox need replacing… like fuses, tape, rusty pliers, spare lamps, or the batteries in your voltmeter and flashlight?

It’s really easy to over-look some of the simple things. The things we seldom use. But checking or replacing them now will insure you have what you need… when you need it.

Take care of your gear, and it will take care of you.

Tight Lines and Calm Seas, Capt. Cefus McRae